FiFi Rong Speaks out about revoking her life, nationality sacrificing all in pursuit of music dream
Avant-pop British artist FiFi Rong has chosen to speak out about her struggles, sacrifices and the resulting freedom as a music maker. While growing up in the culturally laden country of China, FiFi Rong felt immense pressure to subdue her individuality which left her feeling limited and unable to allow her artistic expression to flourish. Although she considered herself being a “black sheep”, the singer struggled to balance her eccentric nature with the conformity and collectivism within her upbringing, resulting in an inner battle of guilt for following her heart. Fifi Rong reveals some of her internal struggles: “I grew up with the soul-tormenting dilemma of wanting to devote my life to music while being made to deeply believe I didn't have any talent for it”. She further goes on to share: “many laughed at and doubted me, or were concerned that I was being delusional.” Fleeing the restrictive circumstance in an effort to preserve the final pieces of her artist dream, FiFi Rong began a new life on the other side of the globe, which would include the immensely difficult aspect of isolation from the support of her family for nearly two decades. Previously foregoing her nationality in order to fully devote herself to the world of music, the singer currently finds herself unable to return to her country of birth due to the restrictions of covid. As such, she has been yearning to see her family with the separation beginning to take its toll on her heart.
FiFi Rong finds herself constantly striving to reconcile the two different sides of society she finds within herself: the stark loneliness that is paired off against the individual freedoms of the Western world, against the embrace of unity and engrained cultural heritage that is found within the Eastern world.
Arriving alone in the UK at age 16, FiFi Rong set about exploring her forgotten potentials. Originally, she limited herself by following her family and friends' advice to study Economics and Sociology, which would allow her to stay in the UK. She began to truly explore both London and her own creativity after earning her master’s degree in Scotland. It was during this time that FiFi Rong took a leap of faith and chose to venture down the routes that had previously been labelled as “selfish” or “unrealistic”, as she embraced a side that she had long repressed within herself. The struggles continued for FiFi Rong as both the economic crisis of 2008 and her own family’s financial turmoil began to put staying in the UK, which meant everything to her, at risk. Fifi Rong further explains: “It meant staying away from conformity, liberating my true self, and creating the possibility for a life in music. It was really hard juggling several jobs in order to extend my visa, but nothing had even come close to the difficulty of gaining the confidence to call myself an 'artist’, which took me 5 years.” It was only she met her childhood hero Tricky, who saw FiFi Rong’s potential and encouraged her to pursue it, that she began to truly gain confidence in her own work.
Perseverance paid off for her as FiFi Rong began to build an illustrious career, going on to work with the likes of Skepta (on his hugely successful UK No. 2, Mercury Prize-winning album Konnichiwa), Yello, and Phaeleh. She currently has upcoming albums with Lee Scratch Perry and Emika. The illustrious music producer continues to challenge the status quo and rebels against cultural boundaries by freely experimenting sonically and visually, setting the precedent for a generation of young Chinese artists to come forth and embrace who they are. She is currently sharing the next stage of her journey online with her long-awaited project, Yi Jing 意境 Live Performance Series. The project is designed to bring the worlds of online concerts, short films, and performance/sonic/visual art all into one reality, with the aim to build a community of loyal aesthetes and avid music/art lovers. FiFi Rong has also begun to release her work as music and multimedia NFTs, marking herself as one of the forerunners in the exciting field.
FiFi Rong continues to work towards a future of freedom, creativity and self-expression, with a determined yet positive attitude: “My new double album tells the story of how I gained my indestructible core from all kinds of pain, and the acceptance of which turned it into poetry and melodies. My entire existence has been a testimonial of self-empowerment. I freed myself for music, and music is now freeing me for a life of possibilities.”